Give us books – Give us wings!
Some years ago the theme for a national reading promotion was “Give us books, Give us wings.” I still treasure the posters and T-shirts – and the visual image. It’s that image that came to mind this week as I’ve had a small role in finding good homes for the unique collection of books in the library of the Minnesota Women’s Press
Any break-up is painful – the breaking up of a library collection is truly poignant. [Many books in the MWP collection were] donated by women who participated in the scores of book groups and salons sponsored by MWP. Having purchased and read the books, these avid bibliophiles chose to share the words of women writers by contributing their books to the library.
For many years the collection was tended by volunteers, including Barb Clark and Rhoda Holden, who spent hundreds of hours at MWP arranging the dynamic collection, meticulously handwriting cards, welcoming visitors and contributors. The collection is eclectic, charming and overflowing with books you won’t find in the chains or even public libraries with tight budgets and limited space. A few of the volumes are autographed by the author herself.
Ever at the ready to face head-on both changing times and fiscal realities, MWP is on the move, from their long-time home near University and Raymond to a site just down the street, at 970 Raymond. Though staff will enjoy [slightly] expanded office and meeting space – not to mention windows – they have had to phase out the library.
Mollie Hoben, MWP co-founder, quotes a volunteer who reminded her that each book arrived at MWP with a story. Now, having gleaned more women’s stories and women’s words during the MWP years, each will take flight to carry wings to other readers who will add their own stories.
In recent days and weeks book lovers from prospective adoptive homes – colleges, schools, women’s centers and used bookstores – have been pouring over the MWP books, recalling their own reading experiences, pondering what is just right for their students, hoping to find that autograph. clipping or other memento of a past reader.
MWP will open soon in their new quarters. The recently expanded magazine] will appear monthly in your mailbox or the corner magazine rack. The book groups and salons will continue in comfortable meeting spaces. Meanwhile, the books once housed in the MWP collection will be sharing their stories. the joy of reading books by and about women, and the thrill of new wings with readers of every age throughout the region.